Guatemala asks Swedish, Venezuelan ambassadors to leave

GUATEMALA CITY — Sweden looked to Guatemala for an explanation on Friday after the Central American country asked both the European nation and Venezuela to remove their ambassadors and accused them of interfering in its internal affairs.

Sweden’s foreign minister says it is “very unfortunate” that the country’s ambassador to Guatemala has been ordered to leave.

Margot Walstrom says the Swedish government will ask for “further explanations” as to why ambassador Anders Kompass has been given 30 days to leave, adding the Scandinavian country’s stance and actions “in matters relating to human rights and anti-corruption are well known.”

A Guatemalan government press release Thursday said Guatemala also wants Venezuelan diplomat Elena Alicia Salcedo to depart.

Kompass is a well-known official and human rights defender. A few days earlier he had announced Sweden’s financial support for a United Nations-sponsored commission investigating corruption in Guatemala.

The commission, which goes by the initials CICIG, had accused Guatemala President Jimmy Morales of corruption related to alleged illegal campaign financing while he was secretary general of his party. Morales subsequently tried unsuccessfully to expel the commission’s head, Ivan Velasquez, from the country.

But Guatemala did not say why it was expelling Kompass and Salcedo beyond alleging “interference in its internal affairs.”

Sweden’s TT news agency says Guatemala’s ambassador to Sweden has been summoned, but did not say when.

At a press conference, foreign minister Sandra Jovel described the move as a sovereign decision by her government. She said there were no plans to expel other diplomats.

Former Guatemalan foreign minister Fernando Carrera said the government was trying to withdraw the financial and political support for the CICIG because of its investigations into corruption.

“It’s a desperate attempt, because the government has increasingly less internal support and must get rid of them,” Carrera said.

___

Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark contributed to this story.

Sonia Perez D., The Associated Press

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